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Black Pepper Sabayon on Asparagus Spears

Black Pepper Sabayon on Asparagus Spears

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopper white onion
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 pounds large asparagus spears, trimmed

Recipe Preparation

  • Place peppercorns in heavy resealable plastic bag; crush coarsely with mallet. Heat heavy small skillet over medium heat. Add peppercorns and onion. Cook until peppercorns are fragrant and toasted, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, whipping cream, and vinegar in small bowl to blend. Stir in peppercorn mixture. Season sabayon to taste with salt.

  • Preheat broiler. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish or broilerproof casserole. Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat dry. Arrange asparagus in single layer in prepared dish. Spread with sabayon. Broil until sauce turns golden, about 2 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Reviews Section

How to cook with seasonal asparagus this April

Risotto makes a lovely light supper, and shows off the asparagus’s delicate flavour. You could use a shop-bought pesto if you want to save on time or can’t get hold of wild garlic.

200g asparagus spears, woody ends snapped off, cut into 3cm lengths
80g butter
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
400g risotto rice
125ml white wine
1.2 litres hot vegetable stock
60g spinach leaves, finely shredded
80g Parmesan, grated, plus shavings to garnish
salt and pepper
20g pea shoots, to garnish

For the wild garlic pesto (or use 150g regular pesto,shop-bought or homemade)
130g wild garlic leaves
1 garlic clove, sliced
130ml olive oil
3 tbsp dry-roasted pumpkin seeds
25g Parmesan, grated

First make the pesto: mix half the wild garlic leaves with the garlic clove and olive oil and leave to stand for 10 minutes, then add to a food processor or blender and blitz to a smooth paste. Add the remaining leaves with the pumpkin seeds and Parmesan and pulse for a few seconds until you have a coarse pesto. Taste and season as necessary.

Now make the risotto. Melt half the butter and the olive oil in a widebased pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over a low-medium heat until softened but not coloured. Add the rice and cook slowly, stirring for 5 minutes. Pour in the white wine and reduce until the liquid has evaporated. Gradually add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly. When most of the stock is absorbed, add the asparagus and spinach with the remaining butter and grated Parmesan. Stir in the wild garlic pesto and season to taste.

Serve, garnished with pea shoots, Parmesan shavings and a drizzle of olive oil.

Bring a wide pan of water to the boil, add the asparagus and simmer for about 5 minutes, then drain and plunge quickly into iced water and drain again well. Leave to cool.

'Nurture: Notes and Recipes from Daylesford Farm' by Carole Bamford, published by Square Peg, £35

Griddled organic asparagus, shallot and wild garlic salad

Time: 25 mins

A bunch of radishes
1 lemon
Sea salt
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove
50g breadcrumbs
4 shallots
200g asparagus
A handful of wild garlich the golden breadcrumbs

Slice the leaves off the radishes, pop the leaves in a colander and gently rinse under cold water. Set aside. Rinse the radishes. Thinly slice the radishes and slide them into a small bowl. Squeeze over the juice from half the lemon, add a pinch of salt and toss together. Set the radishes to one side to lightly pickle.

Peel and finely chop or grate the garlic. Slide it into a large bowl. Spoon in 1 tbsp of the mustard and squeeze in the juice from the remaining lemon half. Stir with a pinch of salt and pepper and 1 tbsp oil till a dressing is formed. Set aside.

Pour 1 tbsp oil into a large pan and warm over a medium-high heat. Tip in the breadcrumbs with a little salt and pepper. Fry for 3-4 mins, stirring frequently, till the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Tip into a bowl and give the pan a quick wipe clean.

Peel the shallots and slice them. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus (they'll break at the right point when you bend them). Return the clean frying pan to a medium-high heat and warm for 2 mins. Pour in 1 tbsp oil and add the asparagus and shallots. Fry for 5-6 mins, stirring often, till the asparagus is tender and the shallots are golden.

Tip the cooked asparagus and shallots into the bowl with the salad dressing. Add the radish leaves, wild garlic leaves and the pickled radishes . Toss to combine. Divide the salad between two warm plates and sprinkle with the golden breadcrumbs.

Roasted asparagus with spring onions and goat’s cheese

We serve this dish as a starter in the Field Kitchen. It is simplicity itself and makes a perfect lunch with a few slices of chewy, crusty bread and butter. We use a goat’s cheddar as it lends itself well to grating, crumbling or shaving, but a younger, fresher goat’s cheese will still hit the mark.

1 bunch of asparagus
olive oil
4–6 spring onions, depending on size
50g goat’s cheddar
½ lemon
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 210°C/Gas 7. Snap the tough lower stalks from the asparagus then split any larger stems in half lengthways so that they are all roughly the same size. Toss the asparagus in a baking dish in just enough oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 8–12 minutes (depending on thickness) until just tender. Trim the spring onions nip off the root, cut off the darker ends and peel away the first layer of skin. Slice very finely at an angle. Break up the slices with your fingertips. As soon as you take the asparagus out of the oven, squeeze the lemon juice over it and toss the spring onions through. Pile on to a plate and crumble, grate or shave the cheese on top.

- New season bunched onions can be used instead of the thinner spring onions thinly slice the bulbous base of the onion and divide up the rings.
- Use a soft, fresh crumbly sheep’s cheese, such as Sussex Slipcote, or a Feta-style cheese or some shavings of pecorino.

Asparagus tempura, goats’ cheese sabayon

8 medium stems of asparagus
200g flour
200g corn flour
30ml cold sparkling water
Salt

Make a tempura batter by combining the flour, cornflour, water and salt and keep refrigerated.

Boil the asparagus for 1 minute in salted water, refresh in iced water. Dry on kitchen paper.

Flour the asparagus lightly and coat in tempura batter. Deep fry at 180 degrees Celsius until batter is crisp.

250ml White wine
150ml White wine vinegar
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig tarragon
1 banana shallot, sliced
1 bay leaf
10 white peppercorns
3 egg yolks
4 dessertspoons of melted clarified butter
170g soft goats’ cheese

Make a reduction by using the white wine and vinegar, thyme, tarragon, bay leaf, pepper and shallot. Boil for 8 minutes leave to cool. Whisk 3 egg yolks, with 2 tablespoons of the reduction and two tablespoons of water over a pan of simmering water until thick and foamy.

Incorporate clarified butter slowly add a spoon of warm water if it gets too thick. Crumble in goat’s cheese to finish sabayon, whisk until smooth. Pass through cheese cloth. To serve, lay the asparagus spears on a plate and spoon over the warm sabayon.

Tony Fleming, Executive Chef at The Baptist Grill at L’oscar hotel in Holborn


Asparagus

Asparagus is one of the first spring vegetables to arrive on the shop shelves. We are loving them at Wickerfood Cooking School cooking classes. They are now at the height of the season, with prices coming down all the time. Buy local, the fresher the sweeter. Here are two simple recipes, one for white and the other for green asparagus, as well as a delicious easy-to-prepare sauce.

Sauteed Asparagus

Cooking asparagus in a heavy-based frying pan, preferably cast-iron, with a tight fitting lid, concentrates its flavour rather than diluting it, as in steaming or boiling. This recipe works best with green asparagus, especially the thinner ones.


1kg asparagus
2T butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Rinse asparagus in cold water and trim off tough ends of stalks.
  2. Put butter in a heavy cast-iron frying pan, with a tight-fitting lid and heat until butter is foaming.
  3. Lay asparagus in the pan and shake from side to side to coat asparagus gently with melted butter. Cover tightly and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Check asparagus and turn as needed to make sure the stalks cook evenly and don't burn.
  4. Continue cooking 5 minutes longer, or until asparagus is tender but still crisp and bright green.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Preparing Fresh White Asparagus

Unlike its green-skinned counterpart, white asparagus has a tough, bitter peel that needs to be removed before cooking. The following is the classic way of preparing white asparagus (alternatively, they can also be steamed).

4L water
2T salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3T butter
1kg fresh white asparagus

    Bring water, salt, lemon juice,

Olive Oil Sabayon

This is a delicious light, yet elegant sauce to serve with asparagus or artichokes (also great over steamed fish).

1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Place wine and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce by three-quarters, cool, then transfer to the top of a double boiler.
  2. Add egg yolks to wine reduction. Set over simmering water over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until yolks thicken enough to fall into thin ribbons when whisk is lifted from pan.
  3. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in olive oil. Thin, if necessary, with 1–2 tbsp. water.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Wickedfood Cooking School runs cooking classes throughout the year at its purpose-built Johannesburg cooking studio. Cookery classes are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – teambuilding cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference.

Our cooking lessons are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and team building cooking classes these events are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.


The i newsletter cut through the noise

It’s how we Italians love to shop and it’s the perfect way to discover new ingredients and recipe ideas – don’t be afraid to ask the suppliers for a taste of their wares, or advice on how to prepare their products. In my experience, they’re always more than happy to help you.

In Italy, this time of year is made for dining outdoors. Here in Scotland, though, there’s still a chill in the air, which means it’s important to create recipes such as the ones I give you here, which bring a little bit of warmth, colour and comfort to the table.

Many people associate Italian cuisine with pasta, and while it forms the foundations of many meals, there is so much more on offer. I love spending quality time in the kitchen mixing and matching ingredients to create something new and special.

ASPARAGUS SALAD WITH SHAVED PARMESAN

At this time of year, I look forward to welcoming fresh green stalks of asparagus to my kitchen. The season for asparagus in the UK is very short, but being such a versatile ingredient I make sure to use it as much as possible. This dish is simple to make and delicious. The balance of succulent stalks, oozing egg yolk and rich Parmesan shavings creates a dish which appears indulgent but is actually incredibly light.


Quick & delicious side dish.

Wow. Took about 45 seconds to prep, 12 minutes to cook, and was delicious! Served to guests and they all asked for the recipe. I hated to have them see how simple it was. Wanted them to think I was this super-chef. :-)

Even my kids loved this recipe. Easy to make, and delicious!

Fabulous. My guests raved and asked for the recipe. I omitted the garlic in the first step and used garlic salt instead of plain salt. Minced garlic can be bitter when roasted. I'd rather roast whole cloves of garlic and then mince that and toss with the asparagus before drizzling the sauce over. But it was still great even without the garlic.

Very good, but I think I overcooked it so it was mushy, but still delicious!

Best healthy asparagus dish I have ever had.

We roasted the asparagus with the olive oil, garlic & sea salt but served it with chicken with a dijon lemon sauce so the asparagus was left without the sauce. Excellent-so much more flavour then steaming it. Will use this simple recipe again & again.


Bacon-wrapped Asparagus with Pepper Vinaigrette

Simple to make, this hot appetizer can be assembled at the last minute. Blanched asparagus bundles are wrapped with bacon, then broiled. They are served with greens and a sprinkle of feta cheese and olives.

Ingredients

  • Pepper Vinaigrette
  • Red Bell Pepper - 1, roasted, peeled, and seeded
  • Shallot - 1
  • Garlic Cloves - 2
  • Roma tomatoes - 2, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • Lemon Juice - 1/4 cup
  • Olive Oil - 1 cup
  • Fresh basil - 1/4 cup, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Bacon slices - 4
  • Asparagus spears - 24, trimmed and blanched
  • Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Greens - 2 cups
  • Feta Cheese - 1/4 cup, crumbled
  • Calamata and Green Olives - 1/4 cup, pitted and chopped

Instructions

To make the vinaigrette: In a food processor, blend the pepper, shallot, garlic, tomatoes, and lemon juice for 30 seconds. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Add the basil and process for 10 seconds. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Allow to sit for at least 1 hour prior to serving.

In a skillet or saute pan, fry the bacon half way, so that it is softened and has rendered some if its fat, but is not crisp. The bacon can be cooked to this point and reserved in the refrigerator until ready to use. Preheat the broiler to high. Lay the bacon strips on a work surface and place 6 asparagus spears over the center of each slice. Wrap the bacon around the asparagus in a band. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and grill on each side for about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the bacon. Remove.

To serve: Pool vinaigrette on four salad plates and place an asparagus bundle on each. Arrange greens around each bundle and sprinkle with feta cheese and olives.


Thomas Jefferson Loved This Veggie

What do George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have to do with delicious food?

They're among the Founding Fathers who've inspired chef Walter Staib.

Staib, the head chef and owner of City Tavern, in Philadelphia, hosts "A Taste of History" on PBS. The show helps us get to know the leading figures from our nation's beginnings through the food they ate.

Staib accepted "The Early Show Saturday Edition"'s "Chef on a Shoestring" challenge of preparing a three-course meal for four on a paltry budget of $40.

He chose a winter meal featuring one of Jefferson's favorite veggies - asparagus.

Although no exact recipe survives, surely asparagus would have been served as a first or second course dish at Monticello, as Jefferson mentions numerous plantings of asparagus between 1767 and 1816 in his "Garden Book." Asparagus was quite a common vegetable in colonial times, given its relatively short growing season. On March 27, 1794, Jefferson notes "The first plant of asparagus up." Less than one week later, on April 8, he enjoys "our first dish of Asparagus."

Trending News

&bull Fried Asparagus w/ Herb Mayo
&bull Beef Rouladen with Smashed Potatoes & Braised Cabbage
&bull Poached Pears

Remoulade: This classic French sauce is made by combining mayonnaise with mustard, capers and chopped gherkins, herbs and anchovies. It's served chilled as an accompaniment to cold meat, fish and shellfish. (Source: Food Lover's Companion)

Rouladen: Germany's version of the French roulade. A roulade is a thin slice of meat rolled around a filling such as mushrooms, breadcrumbs, cheese or a mixture of vegetables and cheese or meat. The rolled package is usually secured with string or a wooden pick. A roulade is browned before being baked or braised in wine or stock. Rouladen comes in many variations, such as slices of beef rolled around a pickle, onion and bacon mixture or cabbage leaves rolled around a ground beef mixture. (Source: The Food Lover's Companion)

INGREDIENTS:
1-1/2 pounds asparagus, stems peeled and trimmed
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1-1/2 tablespoons clarified butter (see Chef's Note) or olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
Herb Rémoulade (see recipe below)

In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Place the asparagus in the water and cook until just tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain. Add enough cold water to cover the asparagus. Let stand for about 5 minutes, until the asparagus is cool. Drain again, and pat the asparagus dry with towels.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, milk, clarified butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or 4-quart heavy saucepan over high heat to 350°F. Dip the asparagus in the batter, shaking off any excess, then carefully drop them into the heated oil a few stalks at a time. Fry until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon remove the asparagus from the oil and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Serve the asparagus on a platter with the Herb Rémoulade on the side.

Clarified butter (also called drawn butter or ghee) is easy to prepare. Because it is free of milk solids, it has a higher smoking point than regular butter (meaning it doesn't burn as quickly), has a longer shelf life, and a lighter flavor. To prepare it, slowly melt unsalted butter in a saucepan and gently simmer until the white milk solids have sunk to the bottom of the pan and the clear, clarified butter remains on top. Skim any foam that rises to the surface, carefully pour the clarified butter into a jar, and store in the refrigerator.

INGREDIENTS:
1 small onion, chopped
1 whole kosher dill pickle, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil, stemmed and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 bunch fresh dill, stemmed and chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, stemmed (about 3 tablespoons)
1-1/2 cups Homemade Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
1 teaspoon small capers, drained
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges and kale, for optional garnish

Prepare the rémoulade: In a food processor bowl, purée the onion, pickle, and fresh herbs. Transfer to a medium-size mixing bowl.

Add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, capers, mustard, and hot sauce. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled (about 2 hours). Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

FOR MORE RECIPES, GO TO PAGE 2.

Black Forest Beef Rouladen

INGREDIENTS
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large white onion, peeled and sliced
6 slices lean beef top round, 8 to 10 inches long, 3 to 4 inches wide, and 1/4 inch thick
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 large bunch fresh curly-leaf parsley, stemmed and chopped
1 pound bacon, sliced into strips about 2 inches long and 1/8 inch wide
6 dill pickle spears
2 cups red wine
3 cups Demi-Glace or prepared brown sauce
Fresh curly-leaf parsley sprigs, for garnish

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the onion, and sauté until softened and translucent. Remove from the heat to cool completely.

Line up the beef slices on a work surface, laying them flat, and season with salt and pepper. Spread a generous teaspoon of mustard on each slice, and sprinkle evenly with sautéed onion, parsley, and bacon. Place a pickle spear on the edge of each strip, roll tightly, and tie with kitchen twine, or pierce with toothpicks to hold the rolls in place.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat (the pan should be just large enough to hold all the roulades snugly). Season the roulades with salt and pepper, arrange them in the sauté pan, and brown well on all sides. Add the wine to deglaze, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and simmer until the pan is nearly dry. Pour in the demi-glace, cover, and set in the oven to roast until the meat is fully cooked but still tender, about 30 minutes. (Check the roulades after about 15 minutes and be careful not to overcook them or they will fall apart.)

To serve, remove the twine or toothpicks from the roulades, arrange them on a platter or on individual plates, and garnish with parsley.

INGREDIENTS:
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, halved (quartered if large)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 bunch fresh chives, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
Salt
Freshly ground white pepper

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until fork-tender.

Drain the potatoes, and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the oil, sour cream, shallots, and chives, and "smash" roughly with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon. (You want the potatoes to maintain some texture.)

Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

INGREDIENTS:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small shallot, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 to 1/2 pounds red cabbage, cored and shredded (about 5 cups)
1/4 cup full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the shallot and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 1 minute.

Add the cabbage, tossing several times, and pour in the wine to deglaze, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the vinegar and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly to prevent the sugar from burning, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by three-fourths, about 10 minutes. (The reduction will be concentrated and have a light syrup consistency.)

FOR MORE RECIPES, GO TO PAGE 3

INGREDIENTS:
Pears
3 cups full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 vanilla bean
4 firm Bosc pears, peeled and stems on

Port Sabayon
8 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup Port
4 sticks cinnamon, for garnish

Stir together the wine, sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and vanilla bean in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, and maintain the poaching liquid at a gentle simmer.

Drop the pears into the poaching liquid, place a plate or piece of cheesecloth overtop to keep them submerged, and simmer until a paring knife easily pierces the bases (the thickest part) of the pears, about 15 to 20 minutes. (Be careful not to overcook the pears or they will become mushy.)

Prepare a large bowl with ice water. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid using a slotted spoon and place immediately in the ice water to cool. Drain the cooled pears, and set aside to warm to room temperature.

To make the sabayon, prepare a double boiler, making sure the water doesn't touch the top portion, and maintain at a simmer. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and Port in the top portion and continue to whisk vigorously until thickened and foamy, about 5 minutes. (To prevent the eggs from scrambling, constantly whisk the sabayon and remove the top portion of the double boiler once or twice if it appears to be cooking too quickly.)

To serve, stand each pear in the center of a dessert plate, trimming the bases, if necessary. Drizzle with sabayon and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

As our "Chef on a Shoestring," Walter was automatically entered in our "How Low Can You Go?" competition. The "Shoestring" chef whose ingredients totals are lowest will be invited back to prepare ouf year-end holiday feast!

So, how did Walter fare?

Fried Asparagus
asparagus $3.99
vegetable oil $1.79
onion $.59
basil $1.50
dill $1.49
lemon juice $1.19
capers $1.59
hot sauce $.79
lemon $.40
total $13.33

Beef, Potatoes & Cabbage
onion $.59
beef top round $5.62
parsley $.99
bacon $1.99
pickles $1.50
red wine $2.19
gravy $.99
shallot $.16
garlic $.39
red cabbage $2.67
potatoes $1.49
sour cream $.99
chives $1.29
total $20.86

Poached Pears
cinnamon sticks $1.49
cloves $.99
eggs $1.29
pears $1.00
total $4.77


Black Pepper Sabayon on Asparagus Spears - Recipes

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    Asparagus with Red Onion Vinaigrette

    This beautiful salad with its bright red and green colors is the perfect start to any dinner. Fresh tender-crisp asparagus and roasted red pepper are dressed with Red Onion Vinaigrette, and garnished with curls of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and black olives. The peppers, asparagus, and dressing may be prepared ahead of time, a boon to the hostess.

    Ingredients

    • Red Pepper - 2
    • Asparagus - 1-1/2 to 2 pounds pencil or medium
    • Red Onion Vinaigrette
    • Tarragon Vinegar - 2 tablespoons
    • Kosher salt - 1/4 teaspoon
    • Freshly ground black pepper - 1/4 teaspoon
    • Dijon mustard - 1 tablespoons
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 6 tablespoons
    • Red Onion - 4 tablespoons, finely chopped
    • Garlic - 1 clove, minced
    • Capers - 2 tablespoons, drained
    • Tarragon - 2 teaspoons (alt. dill), minced
    • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese - 6 tablespoons, shaved
    • Olives - 12 black, oil-cured

    Instructions

    To roast the peppers: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put the peppers on a baking sheet and roast 30 to 40 minutes, or until the peppers blister. Remove and place in a bowl cover with plastic wrap and let stand 30 minutes. Peel under running cool water. Remove all seeds and ribs and cut into 1/4-inch strips.

    To prepare the asparagus: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, depending on thickness, until just tender. Lift with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon and place in ice water to cool. Remove and drain on paper towels.

    To prepare the vinaigrette: Combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and mustard in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, red onion, garlic, capers, and tarragon or dill. Set aside.

    To serve Arrange asparagus spears on 6 serving plates. Lattice pepper strips over the base of the asparagus. Drizzle vinaigrette over the asparagus. Sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the salads. Garnish with black olives.


    Asparagus Caprese Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette (Gluten-Free)

    This week’s Food Network Sensational Sides theme is asparagus, the queen of springtime vegetables. I never liked it as a child because my mom always use canned vegetables for our dinners (bleh!), but when I got older I discovered how delicious fresh vegetables were and now it is my favorite. There is nothing better than the beautiful pencil asparagus arriving in stores and farmers’ markets when the sun is shining and the days are getting longer. Seeing the bright green stalks lets us know that the huge piles of freshly picked produce heaped on each table at the market is right around the corner.

    Farmers’ Markets are the heartbeat of communities all around the world. Market day brings all our neighbors out to shop for everything that is grown and freshly picked within a few miles of town. Centuries after the concept was conceived, it is still a wonderful time to say hello to other regulars we see each week and marvel at the beauty of the fresh produce. Nothing pleases me more than seeing our street full of colorful pop up tents, people meandering through, sampling bites and choosing the foods that will feed their family for the next week.

    As I spy all the gorgeous fruits and vegetables laid out before us, my mind spins with ideas of how to combine them into dishes for The Artist and me to enjoy. Today’s recipe is full of the flavors of spring and perfect for brunch, lunch, or dinner on these gently warming days. And best of all it is naturally gluten-free!

    I love Caprese Salad, an Italian classic with heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. There is nothing better when your garden is overflowing with vine-ripened tomatoes. These three ingredients represent the colors of the Italian flag and are often found in a variety of dishes, most notably this salad and Margherita pizza. Once the tomatoes arrive they will be the prominent ingredient, but for today I thought it would be fun to change it up a little and make asparagus the star.

    Even though tomatoes aren’t at their peak yet, it’s OK because marinating them for a few minutes in the vinaigrette gives them a huge bump in flavor. You can use any variety you like, but heirlooms are my personal favorite. When they aren’t in season, I usually buy Roma tomatoes (pear-shaped) because they have a lot of meat, few seeds and less moisture. That makes them perfect for most salads.

    If you are making this later in the year and can’t find asparagus at the market, you can substitute any other vegetables you like such as zucchini, cucumber, summer squash, eggplant, or potatoes, for an equally delightful dish. Have fun making up different combinations for an endless variety of salads your family will love.

    On busy days this is a lifesaver. You can throw this dinner together in just a few minutes and have it on the table in about 30 minutes. A little chopping and marinating and it is done! If you leave the cheese out, you have a meal that even your dairy-sensitive eaters will happily dive into.

    I had planned on serving this to The Artist as a vegetarian dinner, but he had a long bike ride to recuperate from and needed protein. So we added quickly seared chicken breasts to round out the meal. It was absolutely perfect for our beautiful spring evening. I know we will be creating it often while asparagus is fresh in the markets.

    Enjoy!

    Gluten-Free Tips:

    This salad is naturally gluten-free. If you choose to use a store bought dressing, make sure you read the label and be certain it doesn’t have any gluten in it. Dressing are one place where gluten likes to hide!

    Kitchen Skill: How to Trim Asparagus

    The best way to know where to cut asparagus (part of the stalk is tough and woody) is to hold one stalk at both ends and bend it until it snaps in two. Set the tender stalk next to the rest of the bunch and cut them all to that length. Discard the tough ends.